It was 20 years ago today, that Ted Turner threw the switch in Time Square on vintage film’ aficionados’ dream.
Turner Classic Movies, bowed in 5 million homes on April 14, 1994, five months after announcing its first affiliate pact with Adelphia Cable. Today, the service counts some 83 million subcribers and features a sophisticated TV Everywhere companion in the form of Watch TCM, where authenticated subscribers can not only live stream the service, but tap VOD functionality and engage with complementary curated content around its library of memorable movies.
TCM has steeled its position as a leading authority in classic film with a number acclaimed original documentaries and specials via film series and franchises like The Essentials, hosted by Robert Osborne and Drew Barrymore, and Friday Night Spotlight, and annual programming events like 31 Days of Oscar® in February, Summer Under the Stars in August and TCM Essentials Jr. TCM also connects with movie fans through its annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, the TCM Classic Cruise and TCM Classic Film Tour in New York City.
To celebrates its 20th anniversary, TCM will air 11 of the top films ever produced, including the first film it ever screened, appropriately enough Gone With The Wind,and premiere the retrospective special, TCM: Twenty Classic Moments at 7 p.m.
In addition, TCM will present an encore of its enormously popular and widely requested special, Private Screenings: Robert Osborne, an in-depth interview with the TCM host, who has been with the network since its inception.
"For nearly two decades, TCM has evolved far beyond a network that presents classic films," said Jeff Gregor, general manager of Turner Classic Movies and chief marketing officer of TCM, TNT and TBS. "We've become a lifestyle brand for movie lovers everywhere, who come to TCM not only for the great movies, but also for the curated, contextual environment in which they get to enjoy those films. Like our community of fans, we at TCM share a true passion for the movies, and that passion is on full display in our April 14 schedule and especially in our new special, TCM: Twenty Classic Moments."
Ben Mankiewicz will host the network’s revisit with its own past. In addition to the media mogul turning the network on at the Crossroads of the World, here are some of the TCM toppers over the years:
- Mickey Rooney transfixes Osborne while telling the story about a fight he once had on the set of a movie. (1997)
- An incredibly nervous Betty Hutton joins Osborne for her first on-camera interview in decades. (2000)
- TCM teams up with the Library of Congress and the Brigham Young University Motion Picture Archive to preserve and present six RKO classics that had been lost for years. This marked one of many film preservation initiatives in which TCM has participated. (2006)
- Osborne just can't stop laughing during an interview with Kermit the Frog, one of TCM's many memorable celebrity Guest Programmers. (2007)
- Osborne receives a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (2008)
- TCM wins the George Foster Peabody Award, one of the highest honors in television. (2008)
- Fans from around the country help introduce some of their favorite movies on TCM as Fan Guest Programmers. (2009)
- Osborne interviews two-time Oscar winner Luise Rainer, who had just turned 100, at the first-ever TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood. Even a volcano in Iceland and a broken hearing aid couldn't keep Rainer from what was one of the most remarkable interviews in TCM history. (2010)
- Ben Mankiewicz sits down with his own father, Frank Mankiewicz, to introduce four of Frank's films during a special Father's Day marathon. Frank subsequently becomes a fan favorite and is later featured as a special guest on the TCM Classic Cruise. (2013)
The following is the complete schedule for TCM's 20th Anniversary (all times Eastern):
- Monday April 14
- 5 a.m. – Mildred Pierce (1945)
- 7 a.m. – The Maltese Falcon (1941)
- 9 a.m. – The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
- 11 a.m. – Gaslight (1944)
- 1 p.m. – Citizen Kane (1941)
- 3 p.m. – Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
- 5 p.m. – Casablanca (1942)
- 7 p.m. – TCM: Twenty Classic Moments – Premiere
- 8 p.m. – Gone With the Wind (1939) – First film ever presented by TCM
- Midnight – Private Screenings: Robert Osborne (2014) – Interview special hosted by Alec Baldwin
- 1:30 a.m. – Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – Second film ever presented by TCM
- 3:30 a.m. – It Happened One Night (1934) – One of the films that aired in primetime on TCM's first night
- 5:30 a.m. – The Petrified Forest (1936) – One of the films that aired in primetime on TCM's first night